happening today:

10:15 | Gov. Healey appears on Boston 25 Morning News to discuss her recent trip to Washington D.C.

11:00 | Gov. Healey gives remarks at the first annual Black Women’s Health and Wellness Legislative Advocacy Day Lt. Gov. Driscoll also attends.....Hall of Flags, State House.

5:30 | Senate President Spilka hosts the first annual Galentines' Day event "to celebrate women's empowerment, leadership and friendships, alongside leaders, visionaries and trendsetters who identify as women," according to her office. The event will be closed to press... City Winery, 80 Beverly St., Boston

10:00 pm | MassDOT kicks off a series of nightly lane and ramp closures on several major roadways the department says are necessary to test wrong-way vehicle detection systems, as part of a $2.6 million pilot program bringing the technology to 16 ramps by spring 2023. Each of the closures will run from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. the following morning. Affected roadways are Route 6 eastbound and westbound, exit 68 at Route 132 in Barnstable (closed Monday into Tuesday morning); Interstate 195 eastbound, exit 11 at Route 79 in Fall River (closed Tuesday into Wednesday morning); Interstate 93 northbound, exit 17 at Cross Street as well as Interstate 90 eastbound, exit 135 at Haul Road, both in Boston (closed Wednesday into Thursday morning); and Route 3 southbound at exit 81C at Route 110 in Chelmsford (closed Thursday into Friday morning).

Happy Monday, and please do stay vigilant for any random UFOs in your area.

Meanwhile on firm ground, Massachusetts is adapting to almost total one-party rule. Voters historically have liked a check against Democratic Party dominance, which in part explains the ascent of Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci, Mitt Romney and Charlie Baker despite meager Republican reinforcements in the Legislature. But with Democrats now holding a royal flush in constitutional offices and an even stronger grip in the House and Senate, your average citizen may begin to wonder, where is the counterpoint, i.e., the other side of the political argument?

The potential for more counterpoints slumbers with Massachusetts’ silent majority, for the true dominant mass of voters — where you’ll likely find your average citizen — belongs to neither party. Independents, or unenrolled, reached record numbers last fall: 2.95 million, up 210,000 from two years earlier, and now 60% of registered voters. The much-heralded Democrats lost about 96,000 registered voters over the same period, despite the blue wave in November.

As the new Mass. GOP chair Amy Carnevale picks through the rubble of her party, the registration numbers may very well help to point the way. As she told WBZ-TV political analyst and MASSterList columnist Jon Keller yesterday, anyone who wants to call themselves a Republican is welcome in the party. If she succeeds in growing the GOP, many of the newcomers will come from the ranks of the unrolled, and perhaps motivated out of frustration from one party rule.

DCF woes: How a 15-year-old stayed 40 days in a hospital when he wasn’t sick

When a kid is placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families and sent to an emergency room for evaluation, he stays if there’s no place to physically place him in the DCF system, he stays there, wearing paper scrubs. Elizabeth Koh of the Boston explores this symptom of a broader child welfare crisis, which in turn is putting an additional burden on struggling hospitals.

Boston Globe

MassDems chair Bickford to step down

Gus Bickford is expecting to hand the reins of the Mass. Democratic Party to longtime Democratic operative and former LG candidate Steve Kerrigan in April with the full blessing of Gov. Maura Healey. Bickford oversaw gains by Democrats since assuming the Chair of the party in 2016, including last fall’s sweep of the state’s constitutional offices. He said he plans to stay active in Democratic politics.

State House News Service

Longtime Boston official charged with money laundering in alleged prison drug scheme

A longtime city employee and finance director for Boston Mayor Michelle Wu was charged with money laundering relating to an alleged scheme to provide drugs to her nephew while in prison. Freda Brasfield is among 10 defendants charged by the U.S. Attorney’s office that prosecutors say involved providing a synthetic drug to her nephew Keenan Brasfield while he was in MCI-Shirley. Several civic leaders offered support to Freda Brasfield and praised her character, including Rep. Russell Holmes, who said, “Let the facts bear out before we come to any conclusion on what has happened in the case.”

Boston Globe

Last year’s tax funds generally not taxable, IRS

Most Massachusetts taxpayers will not have to pay federal taxes on the one-time refund they received from state tax payments last year, the IRS ruled Friday night.

“If the payment is a refund of state taxes paid and either the recipient claimed the standard deduction or itemized their deductions but did not receive a tax benefit (for example, because the $10,000 tax deduction limit applied) the payment is not included in income for federal tax purposes,” the IRS said.

State House News Service

Report warns of lost revenue from millionaire’s tax loophole

Massachusetts could lose out on as much as $600 million in Fair Share Amendment revenue each year thanks to a loophole for married couples, according to a report from the Mass. Budget and Policy Center that urges lawmakers to take action. Jennifer Smith of CommonWealth has the details.


Berkshire County DA promises more minor crime prosecutions amid theft spree 

New Berkshire County District Attorney Timothy Timothy Shugrue told business owners and the police chief in Lenox that his office would step up its prosecution of shoplifters, a promise that comes after a spate of local thefts, many which happened in broad daylight. The Berkshire Eagle’s Amanda Burke reports Shugrue’s approach represents a major shift from that of former DA Andrea Harrington.

Berkshire Eagle

Worcester retailers hope to head off tobacco-permit cap 

As a proposal to cap the number of permits to sell tobacco products in Worcester makes its way to the Board of Health, many local business owners are calling the limit, and the prohibition against transferring the permits when a store closes, unfair. The Telegram’s Henry Schwan reports the proposed ordinance has even drawn a formal rebuke from NATO–the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, that is.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Topsfield’s turn: Teachers work to rule in latest educator job action 

Teachers in Topsfield say they will work only the hours they’re required to and are making plans to public rallies to draw attention to the fact that their contract expired 100 days ago. Caroline Enos of the Salem News reports negotiations have dragged on for a year, mainly stuck on the issue of pay raises.

Salem News

Twenty and done: Fiorentini won’t seek reelection in Haverhill

After 10 terms in office, Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini will not seek reelection, opening up the office for the first time in two decades, Mike LaBella and Teddy Tauscher of the Eagle-Tribune report. At least three potential candidates have already stepped forward and more may follow suit after Fiorentini announced his decision to supporters on Saturday.


Christopher Condon, behind-the-scenes giant of Worcester politics, dies at 46

“Most people wouldn’t know who Chris Condon was, unless they were in the business. But his work made a difference in hundreds of thousands of people’s lives, and that’s no exaggeration,” said Rep. Jim O’Day in this obituary of Chris Condon, a longtime political organizer, union advocate and our part-time colleague for many years.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette